Botanical name Myristica fragrans ▪ Family name Myristacaceae
Mace and nutmeg are different parts of the same fruit of the nutmeg tree. The fruit, which is about the size of an apricot and similar in colour, splits when ripe to reveal brilliant red arils encasing the brown nut. These red arils are mace, which turns to an orange colour on drying.
Native range Banda Islands (part of the Indonesian archipelago)
Major producers Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, West Indies
Harvesting The ripe fruit of nutmeg trees is collected and the outer skin and white flesh removed to reveal the seed. The thin, leathery, lacy, bright scarlet aril (the mace) that surrounds the seed is removed, pressed flat, and dried for a few hours only. Mace from the West Indies is typically stored in the dark for about 4 months, during which time it turns a deep orange-yellow.
Taste and aroma Mace has nutmeg’s rich and warm aroma but the smell is stronger with hints of pepper and cloves. The taste of mace is warm and subtle with some lemony sweetness.
Culinary uses Mace is commonly used in savoury dishes and to flavour milk-based sauces such as bechamel. It is often added sparingly to delicate soups and sauces for eggs, fish, and other seafood. It is widely used in processed meats, such as sausages and charcuterie. Mace and its oil are used in many processed foods where nutmeg is used, but being more costly it is usually used in more expensive foods. Whole mace can be easily ground using a coffee grinder.
Storage Ground mace is more commonly available than whole pieces (called blades) but the latter are worth seeking out as these keep almost indefinitely when stored in an airtight container.
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